Campus gives band farewell party

The University sent off Marching 100 members Wednesday morning, as they prepare to perform with Prince at the Super Bowl XLI halftime show on Sunday.

Band members exchanged their marching uniforms for dress attire, as they lined up on “The Set” and loaded onto buses headed for West Palm Beach.

As past 100 performances played in the background, a mass of students congregated in mid-50-degree weather to say goodbye and good luck to the band.

The send-off was not just a campus celebration. It was a community affair, with the Rev. John Green, pastor of Bethel AME Church, and Alan Williams, Florida A&M University graduate and assistant to mayor John Marks, in attendance. “We are here to celebrate another invitation to be on the big stage,” said University spokeswoman LeNedra Carroll. Carroll said, “We are about academics,” but this opportunity is another chance to showcase the University’s talent.

“We know the band will represent us well,” Carroll said.The rally began with a welcome from Student Government President Phillip Agnew in which he downplayed the reputation of the Indianapolis team playing his hometown Chicago Bears. Agnew went on to describe how the 100 has been “a doorway to FAM … better yet, the front porch.” He said the band would be at the Super Bowl, “holding it down with their stellar showmanship.”

Student band leader Chandler Wilson thanked everyone for their support. Wilson said the band’s performance would be a recruiting tool for the University.

“People are always asking ‘Who’s FAM?’ ” Wilson said. He said the 150 million people who will be watching the halftime show will know who the band is when “we set the stage on fire.”

“(Our performance) is going to be the best thing since sliced bread,” said head drum major Shaun West, a six-year band member from Tallahassee.

West agreed with Wilson and said the performance will be more exposure for the University since the band’s Grammy performance with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx.

This will not be Shaun West’s first performance at the Super Bowl. He performed at the Super Bowl pre-game performance in 2005.

As the send-off concluded, band director Julian White dispelled rumors that interim University president Castell Bryant was opposed to the band’s performing at the Super Bowl.

“She was very supportive,” White said, “and we will be ready.”The band will be on the Dolphin Stadium field for five minutes and 45 seconds. Lindsey Sarjeant, a FAMU music professor, said he could not reveal what the band has planned for its performance, but he said it would be a “spectacular show.” Sarjeant said the local community may take the band for granted, but “outside this city, people revere the ‘100’” He said he is excited to have this type of national and international visibility.

“FAM’s band has been a leader in college bands for the last 50 to 60 years,” Sarjeant said. On Sunday, “we will break history.”